Discover the highlights of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan on this 18-day overland group tour which travels from Bishkek to Dushanbe. Take in the ancient city of Osh, hike to the summit of sacred Sulaiman-Too Mountain and camp on the shore of shimmering Toktugal Lake. Trek across the breathtaking scenery of the Fann Mountains, discover ancient wonders in the Wakhan Valley and explore the autonomous region of Gorno-Badakhshan.
Day 1 – Bishkek
Welcome to Kyrgyzstan! Arrive in Bishkek and make your way to our joining hotel for a 10am pre-departure Welcome Meeting. After the meeting, the afternoon is free to settle in and explore Kyrgyzstan’s relaxed capital independently. Perhaps browse the colourful Osh Bazaar or wander around the central Ala-Too Square.
Day 2 – Toktogul Lake
This morning we board our overland truck for the first time and depart Bishkek, heading south towards Toktogul Lake, a shimmering reservoir which is surrounded by mountains. We’ll wild camp in the area near the lake tonight. (B, L, D)
Days 3-4 – Osh & Sulaiman-Too Mountain
Day 3 sees us embark on a long drive through mountainous, windswept terrain to Osh, one of the oldest cities in Kyrgyzstan.
On day 4 we climb to the summit of the sacred Sulaiman-Too Mountain, which is one of only three UNESCO-listed sites in the whole of Kyrgyzstan. It was once an important Muslim pilgrimage site and the panoramic views from the summit are enchanting. There’s also a small mosque here which is still in use. We visit the National Historical and Archaeological Museum Complex, which is built inside the mountain, then return to Osh where there’s free time to explore the ancient city.
Day 5 – Tulpar Kol Lake
Say goodbye to Osh and set off over the mountainous Taldyk Pass (3,615m). We arrive in the scenic mountain village of Say Mogul and then leave our overland truck behind for an excursion up to the beautiful Tulpar Kol Lake. Here we either wild camp or stay in yurts, surrounded by incredible scenery. (B, L, D)
Day 6 – Karakul Lake & Murghab
Today we enter the mountainous Republic of Tajikistan. The border is located at more than 4300m above sea level in the mountains so there are spectacular views from the border point.
Once we’ve crossed into Tajikistan, we drive to the shore of Karakul Lake, which is at a slightly higher elevation than Lake Titicaca in Peru. The surrounding marshes and peat bogs are also an important stopover for bird species including Himalayan vultures and Caucasian great rosefinches.
Enjoy lunch lakeside before we continue our drive over the Ak-Baital mountain pass, the highest pass on the famous Pamir Highway. This famous road, also known as the M41, connects Tajikistan with Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. We arrive in the small town of Murghab, which was once the highest town in the Soviet Union. (B)
Day 7 – Langar
There’s an early start this morning as we embark on a full day’s drive through the rocky scenery of the Pamir Mountains. Get your first glimpse of the Panj River, which we’ll be following for the next few days alongside the border with Afghanistan. We stay in a traditional Pamiri guesthouse in the village of Langar tonight.
Day 8 – Vrang & Ishkashim
This morning we can take a challenging but rewarding hike up to the ancient petroglyphs which were carved onto the rocks above Langar. Admire these ancient carvings and the spectacular views of the Wakhan Valley.
Later we also visit the tiny village of Vrang, where we can admire the incredible and mysterious 4th century Vrang Stupa. There is fierce debate about the use of this amazing ancient structure, some believe it was a Buddhist stupa whilst others say it was once a Zoroastrian Fire Temple, similar to those found elsewhere in the Middle East. We also have time to visit the Village House Museum of Mubarak-i-Wakhani before arriving in Ishkashim, not to be confused with the town of the exact same name just over the border in Afghanistan. (B)
Days 9-10 – Khorog
On day 9 we drive to the riverside city of Khorog, the capital of the off the beaten track autonomous region of Gorno-Badakhshan. On the way we stop at the Garm Chasma hot springs, where you can enjoy a relaxing dip. There’s free time on day 10 to explore the riverside city. Perhaps browse the local bazaar or simply relax in one of the many parks. You may also wish to join an optional excursion to the second highest botanical garden in the world. (B x2)
Day 11 – Khalaykum
Today we have a long drive through yet more incredible scenery along the border with Afghanistan. Late afternoon sees us arrive at the town of Khalaykum where the evening is free to explore. Khalaykum is one of the prettiest towns in the Pamirs. Beautiful mosques and houses lean over the river which charges through the town centre and mountains rise up on all sides. (B)
Day 12 – Kulob
We have an early start this morning in order to reach Kulob, our next destination. We peel away from the border with Afghanistan and head back into Tajikistan, arriving at our hotel towards the end of the afternoon. Kulob is one of the biggest cities in Tajikistan and celebrated its 2700th birthday in 2006. (B)
Day 13 – Iskanderkul Lake
We have a scenic drive today past the Nurek Reservoir on the rushing Vakhsh River. We then arrive at the shore of Iskanderkul Lake.
The triangular lake is fed by glaciers and the rugged mountains on all sides of the lake are a beautiful site to see. Iskander is the Persian pronunciation of Alexander, and the lake is named after Alexander the Great. A large swathe of the surrounding area is an important nature reserve and you’re sure to spot some birdlife as we set up our wild camp close by. (B, L, D)
Day 14 – Trekking in the Fann Mountains
Today we begin our three-day trek in the rugged Fann Mountains. We’ll leave our overland truck behind and take jeeps up to the small village of Artuch, the starting point for our trek. There’s time to explore the village and meet the local villagers. You can also enjoy a two-hour hike to the beautiful Chukurak Lake. (B, L, D)
Day 15 – Bibijanat Lake
Our donkeys arrive this morning to carry our luggage as we trek. There’s a briefing with our mountain guide before we begin trekking towards Bibijanat Lake. The scenery we walk through is simply breath-taking, with tall mountains and lush green forests littered with turquoise lakes. Tonight, we camp on the shore of Bibijanat Lake. (Trekking distance: 14km). (B, L, D)
Day 16 – Alaudin Lake
This morning we ascend to 3,860m above sea level to the Alaudin Pass. From the top of the mountain pass we enjoy tremendous panoramic views of the surrounding peaks and shimmering lakes before descending to Alaudin Lake, where we camp for the night. (Trekking distance: 10km). (B, L, D)
Day 17 – Dushanbe
Our trek comes to an end today and there’s some free time after we’ve packed up camp. Soak up the last of the incredible scenery before we reunite with our overland truck and embark on the last leg of our journey to Dushanbe, the capital city of Tajikistan. The city began as a small village and has now grown to have a population of more than 800,000. Your last night in Tajikistan is free to explore. (B)
Day 18 – Dushanbe
Today your overland adventure comes to an end.
- 14 breakfasts, 6 lunches and 6 dinners
- 5 nights camping (including 2 nights in campsites and 3 nights wild camping)
- 12 nights in hotels and guesthouses
- All necessary camping equipment (excluding sleeping bags)
- 3 day trek in the Fann Mountains
- Visit to Sulaiman-Too Mountain and museum
- Sightseeing as per itinerary
- Transportation in an overland expedition vehicle
- Services of two crew (drivers/tour leaders) and local guides along the way
Images courtesy of OntheGoTours